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A Profile of Lake Louise Ski Area Profile

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A gondola at Lake Louise

A gondola at Lake Louise

Photo © Henry Georgi

Lake Louise Ski Area Description:

Located a 40-minute drive from Banff, Alberta, Lake Louise has 4,200 acres of boardable terrain including 139 marked runs and four bowls, which makes it one of the biggest ski areas in North America. It’s also one of the best.

With 25% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 30% advanced runs, the hill prides itself on offering something for everyone. Wide open powder bowls, cornices (that are often seen in snowboard magazines), cliffs, trees, steeps, rolling groomed runs, and one of the best terrain parks on the continent all make Lake Louise a hill that pretty much anyone can enjoy.

The mountain is also known for having at least one beginner run descending from each of the nine lifts, so anyone can ride any part of this vast ski area. With an average annual snowfall of 188 inches, Lake Louise isn't a place where you can expect to always find fresh tracks but, because of the cold dry conditions, the powder there is almost always dry and fluffy.

Lake Louise Ski Area Location/Directions:

Lake Louise is in Banff National Park, 36 miles (a 40-minute drive) west of the city of Banff, and 115 miles (a two-hour drive) west of Calgary, where the closest international airport is located. Bus service to Lake Louise from the airport is offered by the Banff Airporter.

Lake Louise Ski Area Statistics:

  • Trails: 139 (Lake Louise Ski Area Trail Maps)
  • Longest run: 5 miles / 8 kilometers
  • Lifts: 9 (one gondola, one six-passenger chair, two high-speed quad chairs, one normal quad chair, one triple chair, one t-bar, one magic carpet, and one platter)
  • Uphill Capacity: 13,716 riders per hour
  • Acres: 4200
  • Mountains: 4
  • Snowmaking Coverage: Approximately 40%
  • Summit elevation: 8650 feet / 2637 meters
  • Base Elevation: 5400 feet / 1645 meters
  • Vertical Drop: 3,250 feet / 991 meters
  • Terrain parks: 1 (see the Lake Louise Ski Area Terrain Park webpage)
  • Superpipes: 1
  • Average snowfall: 188 inches
  • Night Skiing: No

Lake Louise Ski Area Reservations:

Lake Louise offers several different pass options including single-day passes, multi-day passes, and season passes. Lake Louise also offers multi-hill passes that allow holders to visit different combinations of hills including Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, Fernie, Panorama, Revelstoke, Marmot Basin, Nakiska, Kimberley, Castle, and Kicking Horse. People considering visiting the hill more than a few times should consider buying a Louise Plus Card, which entitles the owner to three day passes and various other discounts.

Lake Louise Ski Area Accommodations:

Since it's located in a National Park, accommodations are limited and should be booked well in advance. Because of the high demand during peak season, hotels in the area tend to be a bit pricey. The fanciest hotel in the area is undoubtedly the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which is located right on the lake. There are also a few hostels for those on a budget, the closest being the Hi-Lake Louise Alpine Center. If all the accommodations at Lake Louise are booked, then it's best to look for a place to stay in nearby Banff, which has a much wider selection of accommodations.

Lake Louise Ski Area Alternative Activities:

Off-hill activities around Lake Louise include dogsledding, ice skating, horse drawn sleigh rides, cross country skiing, and snowshoe tours. One unique offer is the Lake Louise après ski torchlight dinner and ski, which includes drinks and appetizers with live music at the mid-mountain Whitehorn lodge after which participants ski by torchlight down a freshly-groomed run down to the Sitzmark Lounge for dinner.

More information about activities in the area can be found on the Banff-Lake Louise Website.

Lake Louise Ski Area Conditions and Weather:

Lake Louise is located in a hamlet, so the weather patterns there can be quite different from those at other nearby ski resorts. For example, Lake Louise receives only 188 inches of snow annually, which is very little compared to nearby Sunshine Village, which receives up to 360 inches. Average lows in the winter hover around 6 to -9 degrees Fahrenheit, but can fall as low as -60. The cold dry climate in the hamlet means that, although Lake Louise doesn't receive as much powder as some other hills, the snow that it does get remains dry and soft.

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